Daily Box Office Analysis
By Kim Hollis
July 20, 2012


By now we're sure everyone has heard about the horrifying tragedy that took place overnight at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado. Although it is impossible to adequately express it in words, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragedy as well as their family members as they cope with this loss.

This unfolding event does put a shadow on the story that we as a box office site are following this weekend. The latest estimates show The Dark Knight Rises earning $30.6 million from its midnight screenings. That number is a 66% improvement over The Dark Knight's total of $18.4 million during its midnight showings. The Christopher Nolan Batman series has clearly gained followers in the wake of the performance of the second film.

As we move through the weekend, we will be comparing The Dark Knight Rises' numbers to those of The Avengers, for obvious reasons. The Avengers is currently the opening weekend record holder with $207.4 million. The speculation will be whether The Dark Knight Rises can beat that record. As of now, Batman is out to an early lead, as the number for the midnight showings of $30.6 million is almost $12 million more than The Avengers earned during its midnight screenings ($18.7 million) and a 63% increase over the Marvel film's number. It is important to note that The Dark Knight Rises does lend itself more to midnight showings because of audience composition - it skews older, whereas The Avengers was more family-friendly.

Also, while we will continue to compare the movie to The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises is a foregone conclusion to become the best opening weekend ever for a 2D release. In this regard, it is competing against only its predecessor. The Dark Knight, the #3 opening of all-time overall, remains the best 2D opening over all-time at $158,411,483. Given the scalding pace of The Dark Knight Rises, it is all but impossible to imagine a scenario where it falls short of this mark.

If you're wondering whether $30.6 million is enough for the midnight screening record, the answer is no. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 owns that record, which is a tough-to-beat $43.5 million. Now that it has staved off The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, there is nothing on the horizon that appears capable of surpassing the Potter finale's midnight total. The Dark Knight Rises does hold the second place spot for midnights, though.

Further demonstration of the domination of The Dark Knight Rises is its performance relative to the other titles in release. Without including the midnight exhibitions for Batman, box office fell 11.5% from Wednesday to $16.1 million on Thursday. In other words, Batman made almost twice as much from 12:01 a.m. to 3 a.m. that all other movies in release managed in the entire day. The Dark Knight Rises earned almost as much overnight as the entire box office top ten for Wednesday and Thursday combined.

As for the other films in the top ten, Ice Age: Continental Drift, theoretically the #1 movie in the US yesterday, earned $4,620,310 million. This is a modest 10% drop from Wednesday, giving the movie a grand total of $68,423,306. The Amazing Spider-Man fell 15% to $3,409,530. Its domestic total is now $217,724,314. Ted finished "third" with $2,246,040 and has now broken the $170 million mark with an exact total of $170, 419,815.

Out of the other films in release besides Batman, Magic Mike is the next to reach a milestone. Its $1,349,196 gives it $97,675,027 after 21 days. It should surpass the $100 million mark on Saturday. With regards to the rest of the weekend, online ticket sales juggernaut Fandango reports that 91% of purchases today are The Dark Knight Rises. Whether the terrible news in Colorado hurts or helps the box office is trivial relative to the act of terrorism itself. We do not believe it will be a significant factor either way in terms of (irrelevant) box office receipts.

Note: This is an edited version of our earlier story, which used initial estimates from Exhibitor Relations. The studio updated with new, stronger estimates later in the day.